People who come to Topeka Municipal Court’s Clean Slate Day Oct. 14 just got an extra boost of support. An anonymous donor has made a financial contribution to assist those who meet income qualifications. The donation will be used to pay expungement application fees and court costs. The fines associated with the misdemeanor crimes will not be covered through donated funds. Defendants will be responsible for the payment of their fines.
“We’re ecstatic a member of this community has stepped forward to help our neighbors in need,” said Topeka Municipal Court Administrative Judge Jason Geier. “The punishment aspect to these costs will remain on the defendants. This donation will help people who haven’t had a criminal record for years, but couldn’t afford the application fees to have their record cleared, move their lives forward. It’s a great testament to the people who live in this community, and how Topeka truly is a family.”
Clean Slate Day will last from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Municipal Court, 214 S.E. 8th Street. Participants need to park, for free, in the parking lot at S.E. 8th and Madison. Geier estimates the funding will provide assistance to about 75 people in that time. Financial assistance with expungement application fees and court costs will be provided on a first come, first served basis.
To qualify for financial assistance on Clean Slate Day, a person must be a Topeka resident and have an annual income of $26,300 or less for a one-person household. Two-person households must have an annual income of $30,050 or less; three-persons, $33,800 or less; four persons, $37,550 or less; five persons, $40,550 or less; six persons, $43,550 or less; seven persons, $46,550 or less and eight persons, $49,550 or less.
Those applying must provide proof of household income, a social security card and photo identification.
At Clean Slate Day, individuals will receive assistance from TMC with arrest warrants, payment plans, payment options and expungements. Outside the courtroom, about 15 area agencies will set up a resource fair on the sidewalk to provide people with free services, including legal advice, employment opportunities, housing, finances, education, food resources and other social service needs.
“Clean Slate Day isn't just about getting help in Topeka Municipal Court,” said Monique Glaude’, division director of Community Engagement in the Department of Neighborhood Relations. “Because of these area service agencies that also will be on hand, Clean Slate Day truly is about empowering Topekans -- in all aspects of their life."
Those wanting to participate in Clean Slate Day have to bring a government-issued photo identification, like a driver’s license. If it’s available, any information or documents about existing TMC offenses and proof of income also would be helpful.
During the past two months, through the efforts of the Department of Neighborhood Relations, Geier has given 11 presentations out in the community, with another two scheduled for October. More than 130 people attended these meetings, though anecdotally Geier knows those individuals carried his message to friends and family.
Geier has stories of individuals who have approached him at these meetings, concerned (one to the point of tears) about their outstanding warrants for missed court dates. After a meeting with Geier the next day, warrants were pulled, new court dates were set, and Topekans in need of a little help were given the power to move forward.
“In my mind, Clean Slate Day already has been a success,” Geier said. “People who attended these meetings are getting the message, they are telling their friends, and they aren’t waiting for Clean Slate Day. In these short six weeks, we’ve been able to help people get their lives back on track, simply by knowing they have don’t have to be afraid to come to court.”